Bronx, NY New York

Bronx slashing not hate crime after victim withdraws statement claiming attacker yelled ‘f–k your country’

The slashing of a Bronx man while he walked with his 1-year-old son is not a hate crime because the dad recanted his statement about the attacker screaming “f–k your country,” authorities said Wednesday.

Joseph Key, 24, was arrested Saturday for the Feb. 1 assault on Ociel Herrera on E. 139th St. near Willis Ave. in Mott Haven, but police said the attack wasn’t fueled by racial hatred.

According to police sources, Key is emotionally disturbed and slashed Herrera, 41, because he thought Herrera was following him.

Key has been charged with assault, acting in a manner injurious to a child and harassment. He was ordered held on $10,000 bail during an arraignment at Bronx Criminal Court Sunday, according to court records.

Last Thursday, Herrera, who moved to New York from Guerrero, Mexico, in 2009, told the Daily News about his frightening encounter, and maintained he was the victim of a hate crime.

“What he told me is stuck in my brain: ‘F— your country,’” Herrera said. “I saw hate in his eyes.”

After the assault, Herrera said he briefly chased after his attacker, but quickly returned to his son.

Ociel Herrera was slashed in the face while walking with his son.

(Obtained by Daily News)

Police said they recovered surveillance video that led to Key’s identification.

Herrera claimed he never experienced any violence since moving to New York, but now fears his 1-year-old son may need therapy.

“At night my son wakes up screaming after having nightmares. He dreams that someone is trying to kill me,” Herrera said. “I, myself, am afraid to go out on the street with my son.”

Herrera is not facing any charges for recanting his statements, police sources said.

A phone call to Herrera for comment was not returned Wednesday.

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